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If you’re reading this, you’re at the point in planning your Colombia trip that you’re asking yourself: How much time should I spend in Medellin and Bogota?
They’re both interesting cities worth visiting, and there’s a lot to do both in the cities and the surrounding areas.
Unfortunately, there are a lot of amazing places throughout Colombia that are farther away as well, so you have to decide how much time you should spend in Medellin and Bogota during your stay and how much you should spend elsewhere in places like Cartagena, Tayrona National Park, the Amazon Rainforest, the Coffee Triangle, and more.
However, rest assured that you can see much of what both cities and surrounding areas have to offer even if you’re limited on time.
Keep reading to find out exactly how much time you should spend in Bogota and Medellin on your upcoming vacation to Colombia!
The view from El Penol rock in Guatape – an easy day trip from Medellin, Colombia
How Much Time Should I Spend In Medellin?
We spent six months in Medellin, Colombia but we also had friends and family visit us while we there.
Some of our friends stayed in Medellin for five days, and our family stayed in the city for three days. Based on our long-term experience and their shorter experiences, it seemed that three days was plenty for those on a shorter trip.
In those three days, you can:
- Do the Medellin walking tour
- Ride the cable car and hike around Parque Arvi
- Take a day trip to the dazzling lakes (and ruins of Pablo Escobar’s past) in the town of Guatape
- Get a little tipsy on a night out in Poblado
Although there’s more to see and do around the city, those are the highlights that you really need to see as a tourist.
Once you’ve done that, it’s easy to get a flight to the white sand beaches of Cartagena or a four-hour bus to the untouched mountain town of Jardin. If you only have 10-15 days in Colombia, there isn’t much reason to stay longer than those three full days in Medellin.
How many days in Medellin?
When it comes down to how long to spend in Medellin on your vacation, three full days is enough to see the highlifts of the ‘City of Eternal Spring.’
View of Bogota from Monserrate
How Much Time Should I Spend In Bogota?
During our time in Colombia, we spent a long weekend in Bogota (arrived late Thursday and left Monday afternoon) and found it to be more than enough time to explore the city, see the sights, and enjoy the nightlife.
Bogota is a big, crowded city and doesn’t have the nicest weather because the high altitude makes it chilly and rainy year round.
Although Bogota interesting and definitely worth seeing, I wouldn’t recommend spending more than two days here if you’re on a time limit.
In that time, you can:
- Visit the colorful La Candelaria district
- See the imposing government buildings
- Enjoy the sweeping views from Monserrate
- Have a wild night out in Zona Rosa
- Visit the Catedral de Sal de Zipaquirá
Unless you really like crowded streets and crazy nights out, you’ll soon be ready to move on to the jungles, beaches, and idyllic countryside that Colombia has to offer.
How many days in Bogota?
When it comes down to how long to spend in Bogota on your vacation, two full days is enough to see the highlights of Colombia’s capital city.
Horseback riding in Salento, the most popular town in Colombia’s Coffee District
So, How Much Time Should I Spend in Medellin and Bogota?
If you’re on a 10-15 day trip to Colombia, I recommend spending five days total between the two cities, with three in Medellin and two in Bogota.
That will leave you with 5-10 days to visit other parts of the country.
You could easily fit in the chilled out coffee districts of Salento and Jardin if you want to be out in an authentic small town with plenty of nature, or you could go spend time in Tayrona National Park and Leticia for more nature or Cartagena (or even San Andres Island) if you want a sunny beach and colorful old town.
Although it really comes down to you and your own preferences, if you’re asking yourself ‘How much time should I spend in Medellin and Bogota?’ I definitely wouldn’t spend more than five days between them if you’re on a shorter trip in Colombia.
There are just too many other amazing things to see throughout the country.
Houses in Medellin, Colombia
Bogota or Medellin: Which is Better?
If you’re really pressed for time, you might find yourself being forced to decide between Bogota or Medellin.
Medellin is nicknamed the ‘City of Eternal Spring’ because the weather is comfortable and sunny year-round. Bogota doesn’t have an official nickname that’s similar, but the ‘City of Eternal Rain’ would be a good fit. It’s cold and cloudy all the time because it sits 8,660 feet above sea level.
Is Bogota worth visiting if you’re pressed for time?
It’s just a big city.
Medellin, Cartagena, Salento, Leticia, Tayrona National Park, and the Lost City trek will all be more beautiful and more memorable on your vacation.
Is Medellin worth visiting if you’re pressed for time?
Chances are your international flight will need to land in one of Colombia’s major cities and Medellin is a good choice because of the iconic Colombian look (houses stacked up into the hills) the iconic Colombian history (Pablo Escobar’s influence shaped the city into what it is today) and the iconic Colombian nightlife (whether you want craft beer or to go clubbing until sunrise, the Poblado neighborhood will provide).
If it comes down to deciding between Medellin or Bogota on your Colombian vacation, Medellin will win every time.
The famous Botero statues in downtown Medellin – you can see these on the Medellin city tour
Bonus: How to Get from Bogota to Medellin
Luckily, intercity travel in Colombia is crazy cheap.
The best way to get from Bogota to Medellin or Medellin to Bogota is by plane. The flights on Viva Air are seriously dirt cheap (we flew between Medellin and Bogota for $45 round-trip) and are way, way, faster than the buses.
Medellin is more than 250 miles from Bogota and the drive is almost eight hours by car – in a rickety bus, you can be sure it’ll take even longer.
Colombia is a mountainous country and the infrastructure isn’t the best so if you opt for a bus between Medellin and Bogota you’re going to waste hours and hours of your life on a bumpy ride and you won’t even save that much money – that’s why I definitely recommed opting for the one-hour flight between the two cities instead.
Search your travel dates on Skyscanner to find the cheapest flights from Bogota to Medellin.
La Candelaria district in Bogota
Bonus: Where to Stay in Medellin and Bogota
Now that you’ve got your timeline worked out, it’s time to book your trip! But, where are the best places to stay in Bogota and Medellin?
In Bogota, I recommend the Hobu Hostel in the Chapinero district because it’s budget-friendly and conveniently located between La Candelaria neighborhood (to explore during the day) and the Zona Rosa area (to go out in at night). Plus they have free breakfast 🙂
In Medellin, booking a hostel in the Poblado neighborhood is a no-brainer. It’s the most beautiful and exciting part of the city with the best shops, restaurants, and nightlife.
If you really wanna party, the Happy Buddha hostel has ya covered with a perfect location, crazy cheap drinks, and activities almost every night of the week. For people who like to sleep (that’s me) check out the most popular hotels in Poblado to find the best fit for your trip!
Ready to go? Use Skyscanner to find the cheapest flights to Colombia and then explore accommodation like unique stays on Airbnb or the top-rated hotels on Booking.com to plan the perfect night, weekend, or long-term stay in the country.
This article is part of the Classic Colombia series. Read the rest below:
Or, explore the complete Colombia series for more tips on what to see, do, eat, drink, and discover in the country.
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I’ve been traveling full-time for three years, these are the resources that make it happen:
➤ I exclusively use Airbnb for savings and security on long-term stays in furnished apartments.
➤ I use Booking.com for short-term stays in hostels and hotels on weekend trips.
➤ Upwork allowed me to take the leap to travel full-time because they make it so easy to find freelance clients in any field.
➤ The Superstar Blogging Travel Writing Course launched my travel writing career and helped me become a contributor at sites like Cincinnati Refined and International Living, and even get published in the Boston Globe.